The 10th International Turkish Olympiads, which brings together hundreds of foreign students each year from Turkish schools established throughout the world, kicked off with splendid ceremonies in various cities in Turkey on Wednesday.
10th Turkish Olympiads was inaugurated in İstanbul on Wednesday.
(Photo: Today's Zaman)
A total of 1,500 foreign students from 135 countries came to Turkey for the Turkish language Olympiads, which are organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER). This year's competition, which will run from May 30-June 14, will predominantly be held in Ankara and İstanbul, but there will also be activities in 41 other Turkish cities. The theme of this year's Olympiads is “İnsanlık için el ele” (Hand-in-hand for humanity).
The 10th International Turkish Olympiads has kicked off with splendid ceremonies across Turkey. The photo shows Kazakh students performing Turkish traditional dance in Eskişehir. (PHOTO Cihan, Burak Çan)
Inauguration ceremonies for the Olympiads were held in various cities such as Sivas, Tokat, Eskişehir, Diyarbakır and Rize on Wednesday. Some 20,000 people attended the inauguration ceremony held in Rize, one of whom was Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı. Foreign students from 21 countries performed at the ceremony. The inauguration ceremony, held in Malatya, saw 70 students from 18 countries perform on stage at İnönü Stadium. Speaking at the ceremony, Sports Minister Suat Kılıç expressed his gratitude for the efforts of teachers in international Turkish schools.
Over 10,000 people in Sivas were treated to performances by 65 students from 30 countries at a ceremony held at 4 Eylül Stadium. Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, who attended the ceremony, said that while the rest of the world declines, Turkey was improving with the help of the Turkish Olympiads.
Tens of thousands of people came to see the performances staged by 65 students from 25 countries at a ceremony held at Atatürk Stadium in Eskişehir, the hometown of Yunus Emre, a great Turkish thinker and folk poet. Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputies Nabi Avcı, Ülker Can and Salih Koca were among the attendees.
The main inauguration ceremony of the Olympiads was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in İstanbul’s Beşiktaş district. The Olympiads’ organizing committee chairman, Mehmet Sağlam, said in his opening remarks that students attending the 10th Turkish Olympiads had all been selected from international Turkish schools in 135 countries around the globe. Stating that all the students who came for the Olympiads were the champions of their own countries, Sağlam stated that the champion of these champions would be determined in competitions held in Turkey.
Each year about 15,000 students from around the world prepare for the event and these students face fierce competition in their home countries in order to come to Turkey for the Olympiads. The official bodies of each country select the best students to represent them at the Olympiads.
Stating that Turkish is the language of compassion, friendship and dialogue, Sağlam further noted that the aim of the event is to make Turkish the global language of arts, science and literature. Thanking esteemed Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen for assisting in launching Turkish schools abroad, Sağlam also thanked Turkish teachers at those schools. “Turkish teachers, who I define as ‘heroes,’ also deserve thanks. They are dedicated teachers who spend their energy to make Turkish a language of compassion, friendship and dialogue around the globe. I also want to thank businessmen who provide the international Turkish schools with financial support.”
After his opening speech, the students enchanted guests with nostalgic songs sung in Turkish, recitations of Turkish poems and Turkish folk dances. At the end of the ceremony, a chorus comprising students sang the song of the Olympiads. The opening ceremony brought together politicians, high-ranking state authorities, artists, businessmen, journalists and authors, as well as many guests from Turkey and beyond.
Speaking at the end of the ceremony, Education Minister Ömer Dinçer said he was proud to see international students from countries around the world gather under the Turkish flag. Dinçer stated that the Olympiads were one of the most beautiful ways of promoting peace, love and brotherhood.
Turkey’s celebrities praise International Turkish Olympiads
Doğuş Group Chairman Ferit Şahenk, who spoke to Today’s Zaman at the ceremony, said the event is an important enterprise which promotes Turkey and its culture. “International students [who learn the Turkish language at schools around the world] will do beneficial deeds in their countries in the future. Maybe some of them will be successful businessmen. They might want to conduct business with Turkish businessmen in the future. I believe the Turkish Olympiads will help us construct a better future for Turkey,” he said.
Collins Chairman Nurettin Eroğlu told Today’s Zaman that the Turkish Olympiads were a project of brotherhood. “Promoting brotherhood, unity and solidarity among humanity around the world and raising new generations who possess these virtues takes great importance. With the Olympiads, we bring together many international students from around the world with the help of a language, so I want to thank all the people who have made great efforts for this event.”
Stating that the peak the Olympiads have reached today is no surprise, former Galatasaray Chairman Adnan Polat told Today’s Zaman that he recalled the early years of the Olympiads. “The number of attendees was low at the beginning. It was not possible to see foreigners speaking Turkish, but now there are many students speaking, singing and reciting poems in the Turkish language. They introduce Turkey to the world.”
Former Fenerbahçe Vice President Nihat Özdemir said the Turkish Olympiads are one of the most efficient events held in the Turkish Republic and added that the event is important because it contributes to the introduction and learning of the Turkish language and literature around the world.
Defining the Olympiads as a sign of Turkey’s recent progress, İskender Pala, a professor and renowned author, said: “The students who come to Turkey for this event will serve as ‘Turkish ambassadors’ back in their countries and they will introduce the Turkish culture and language to the world. I believe many contributions will be made in the future with the help of the Turkish Olympiads.”
Expressing his appreciation for the international students who speak the Turkish language, Doğan Yayın CEO Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ stated that he felt proud upon seeing international students speaking and singing in Turkish.
Show TV News Desk Editor Ali Kırca said he was surprised to see many students from all around the world speaking in Turkish. Stressing that the Olympiads were a different kind of event, Kırca said he was excited to see this project. He added that the Olympiads helped promote Turkey abroad. Former referee Ahmet Çakar also made similar remarks, saying that he was surprised to see students performing in Turkish.
Song writer Sezen Cumhur Önal, who also spoke to Today’s Zaman, said he was excited to see foreign children from around the world singing in his language. “About 50 years ago, when I started to write Turkish lyrics to foreign compositions, many people were mocking me, but now foreigners are speaking and singing in my language.”
A number of foreign businessmen also attended the ceremony in İstanbul. The CEO of VWD Vereinigte Wirtschaftsdi, Thomas Muller, told Today’s Zaman that Turkish education was improving very rapidly, which makes Turkey a good export market. Promethean World PLC (Promethean) Managing Director Hendrik P. Brons said he came to İstanbul in order to follow the Turkish Olympiads and explore business opportunities in Turkey.
Published on Today's Zaman, 31 May 2012, Thursday